22 de Marzo de 2019
Portal Educativo de las Américas
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Colección: Trends for a common future
Autor: Noel F. McGinn
Título: Toward International Cooperation in Education for the Integration of the Americas

Aid by Philanthropic Foundations

In education, the U.S. government worked closely with the philanthropic foundations and especially with the Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford foundations. Although these organizations received no subsidies from the U. S. government, their leadership consulted regularly with government officials, and explicitly espoused U.S. objectives in the Cold War. Their major activity was the support of higher education institutions overseas, and the selection of persons to receive scholarships for study in U. S. colleges and universities. In both types of activity the ambition was develop an

“…international community of…scholars…who seek…to…collaborate in research…in the quest for the identification of new universals” (Stifel, Davidson, & Coleman, 1982, p. x).

Even though the U. S. foundations no longer are large contributors to education in other countries, a review of their experience may help in developing a better understanding of the problems and prospects of international cooperation. There have been at least three major studies of how this form of international cooperation affected the development of social science in the receiving countries, one commissioned by the foundations (Stifel et al., 1982), the other two criticizing the foundations’ performance (Arnove, 1982; Berman, 1983). The studies were written in the late 1970s and describe the earlier rather than more recent behavior of the foundations. They are useful in terms of cautions for the future rather than diagnoses of the present.

Three Latin Americans contributed to the volume commissioned by the foundations. One, a former head of economic planning for the Pinochet government of Chile, described the great benefits that resulted from foundation support of the linkage between the University of Chicago and the Catholic University of Chile. His argument is that foundation support made possible the transfer of leading edge concepts and models in economics. Foundation impact on higher education in Chile is criticized, however, by a former rector of the University of Chile who argues that the financial support “may have retarded creative thought related to values and ideology” (Stifel et al., 1982, p. 257). A second author emphasized differences in the intellectual history of universities in Latin America and those in the United States and England. He observed that while there may have been (in 1982) some nascent “world universities” in Latin America, namely those that received massive funding from U.S. foundations, but most institutions were organized according to the Napoleonic model. He went on to argue that the U.S. seed sprouted most in Brazil where the university system was underdeveloped. Resistance to the new model of science found less favor in countries with strong traditions of university autonomy. He also noted the irony that the survival of social science in Latin American countries with repressive regimes was only possible because of the foundations.

The two studies critical of the foundations’ role in education in other countries emphasize the one-directional nature of this form of cooperation. Students from Latin America were allowed to study only market economics, professors brought from the United States tended to teach the dominant perspective in their discipline and criticized alternative approaches. Their social science emphasized economic growth; social justice issues were explicitly absent. Research topics focused on solving problems considered relevant in the United States as well as in the receiving countries. Students came back trained to use apparatus and facilities not available in their countries; armed with critiques of the backward science and education associated with low levels of development; expecting comfortable incomes and high levels of prestige. They wanted to do research on topics that would get them published (in English) in international journals. In addition, the foundations’ contributions to curriculum development, research and training were explicitly consistent foreign policy objectives of the United States government (Arnove, 1982; Berman, 1983).

The most constructive observations were made by a development economist who argued that, while it may be possible to construct universal truths, the application of that knowledge is always conditioned by context, varying by time and space. Contact between knowledge producers in North and South is of great importance for the diffusion of methodologies that can be applied in varying contexts, and hence it is important to support joint ventures governed by reciprocal and symmetrical relationships.

At the same time, the research agenda for the two groups should be different. Researchers and knowledge brokers in the North should emphasize problems of the interface between richer and poorer nations. A special research effort by “friends of the South” might pay special attention to how changes in policies of the richer nations might contribute to alleviation of these problems. Research and knowledge management in the South, on the other hand, should focus more on internal problems of development, with special attention to how to improve the position of the South with respect to the developed nations. The success of these efforts will depend on the existence of multiple channels of funding for knowledge production, to insure the survival of diversity in knowledge as much as in nature  (Paul Streeten in Stifel, et al. 1982).

[INDEX] [Presentation] [Introduction] [The Evolution of International Cooperation in Education in the Americas] [Cooperation After Nationalism] [International Cooperation as Supranationalism] [Cooperation for International Development] [Resistance to Aid] [Cooperation as Collaboration within Latin America] [Cooperation as Structural Adjustment] [The Current Situation of Education in the Americas] [Current Status of Education] [Summary] [Current Forms of International Cooperation] [Aid as a Form of International Cooperation] [Varieties of Aid] [Uniformization as a Consequence of Aid] [Aid or Assistance from Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations] [Cooperation by Transnational Corporations] [Aid and Assistance from NGOs] [Aid by Philanthropic Foundations] [Aid Mediated through Educational Institutions] [International Cooperation in the Form of Collaboration] [Examples of Collaboration in Higher Education] [Obstacles to International Collaboration in Higher Education] [Examples of Collaboration Between Non-governmental Organizations] [Other Instances of Collaboration] [Summary] [Globalization and International Cooperation] [The New Industrial Paradigm] [Implications of the New Industrial Paradigm for Education] [The New Development Model] [An Outline of a New Paradigm for Education] [Alternative Approaches to International Cooperation in Education] [An Example of Regional Collaboration to Develop a New Paradigm] [Notes] [References]